Chances are if you are an athlete of any sport or a fitness enthusiast of any discipline, you care about performance. And intuitively you probably already know on some level that fueling yourself and recovering with the proper macronutrients and micronutrients is essential to this process.
However one nutrient tends to not get as much focus, and there’s a 90% chance you are deficient in this nutrient according to recent population research. It’s called choline, also occasionally referred to as vitamin B4.
Choline is actually a precursor for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. This important neurotransmitter plays many roles in the nervous system, including focus, and as strength and power athletes might be more concerned with, in neuromuscular functions including power output. While lean muscular mass is important in muscle contractions during the movements, many strength and power adaptations are highly influenced by the neuromuscular system.
Additionally, acetylcholine acts as a neuromodulator, a chemical that impacts your mental focus, arousal, and motivation. While it may seem like an added bonus for many people interested in adherence to a fitness regimen, lacking adequate acetylcholine for this purpose can also highly impact athletes during a competition.
There is also research supporting the theory that increasing your choline intake can help support your brain and hippocampus function. Your hippocampus is largely responsible for circadian rhythms, which allows for adequate sleep and recovery – this is essential to any athlete for purposes of either performance, health, or body composition.
If you suspect you may be missing significant sources of choline in your diet, you can find the highest sources from the following:
- Whole eggs, especially free-range
- Beef liver
- Legumes, especially lentils
- Seeds, especially pumpkin and sunflower seeds
- Cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy and broccoli
As you can see, these are foods that are high in fiber, high in many nutrients, high quality protein, and healthy plant-based fats such as in seeds. Not only more focus on this nutrient can help your performance, but also round out many other areas that promote health as well!
Get your choline!